The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult – and more important – than ever to take care of your health. But it's not just the novel coronavirus that you have to worry about. While you're washing hands, disinfecting surfaces and wearing protective masks to fend off COVID-19, you're also at risk of other medical conditions.
This isn't something you should face without the benefit of in-hospital cover and payment for treatment.
Medical and science professionals tracking the spread of COVID-19 around the world have noted that in those cases where the condition becomes serious enough to warrant hospitalisation and intensive care, the patients often had comorbidities, or underlying conditions.
Hypertension, diabetes and obesity are the three conditions most associated with serious cases of COVID-19, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said at the end of April. Lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive airway diseases associated with heavy smoking were also concerning.
By law, medical aids have to offer Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMBs), which ensure you're covered for a defined minimum set of health services, whatever your benefit plan. They include emergency medical conditions, a defined list of 270 medical conditions and 25 specified chronic conditions.
The good news is that COVID-19 is now covered under the PMBs, and so are many of the comorbidities. Even if you don't fall sick during this period, if you don't have health cover but have any of the listed underlying conditions, it's a good reason to find a medical aid that suits you and join.
COVID-19 isn't just a risk for older people and those with underlying conditions. As the virus spreads around the world, cases of otherwise healthy young people falling seriously ill are also being recorded. This means that it's too simplistic to think of risk factors as purely about falling in a certain age category, or having an underlying condition. We all need to be careful not to put our health at risk.
COVID-19 doesn't have to hit you directly for you to be affected: increased fear and anxiety about the pandemic can have a negative effect on your mental health. This leaves you more prone to developing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Suffering these mental illnesses for a long period of time weakens your immune system, making you vulnerable to even more health conditions.
Before signing up, assess what your particular needs are. Besides underlying conditions, which increase your risk of falling seriously ill if you contract COVID-19, you also need to look at your budget, which has become more important as the pandemic continues to affect our economic situations. You also need to look at the hospital networks within each medical scheme and, of course, whether or not you want to cover your family as well.
The free comparison tool on Hippo.co.za will help you compare medical aid scheme quotes side by side, and choose the right one for you.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.